Can I choose between having a frame-based approach and a mask-based approach?
Your neurosurgeon should discuss these options with you to decide the best option for your condition. If you have questions about this, ask your care team.
Can I breathe with a mask on?
Yes. There are tiny holes in the mesh mask that allow you to breathe. Also, your nose isn't covered by the mask at all.
How long does the treatment take?
The treatment lasts from a few minutes to a few hours. The specific amount of time depends on the size, shape, type, and number of lesions that need treatment, as well as the radiation dose needed.
You'll need to stay for at least 45 minutes after the treatment. During that time, the nurse reviews your discharge information and makes any final assessments.
Will I be asleep for the entire procedure?
No. If you're having a frame-based approach, you'll be taken to the operating room. There, you'll be given a small amount of medicine to make you fall asleep. Once you're asleep, the neurosurgeons attach the frame to your head using 4 pins. You'll only be asleep for about 5-10 minutes.
If you're having a mask-based approach, you won't be given medicine to make you fall asleep.
Will I feel pain or discomfort during the procedure?
No. You won't hear, see, or feel the radiation. The procedure is quiet and painless. If you like, we can play music of your choice in the room during the treatment.
Can you give me medicine for anxiety or pain?
Yes. We can give you medication if you're afraid of being in small spaces (are claustrophobic), very anxious, or in pain. But it's not likely you'll need it. Most people fall asleep during the treatment without any medication.
Can my family be with me during the treatment?
Your family can only be with you in the Gamma Knife Recovery Unit before and after the treatment. They can't be with you during the treatment.
What if I need to go to the bathroom?
You'll have time to use the bathroom before your procedure. If you need to use the bathroom during it, we can pause the procedure, help you to the bathroom, and then continue afterward.
What restrictions will I have after treatment?
You will not be allowed to drive after treatment, so please make plans to have a ride home.
Will my tumor disappear after the procedure?
The effects of your treatment take a little time. We may check your progress with follow-up MRI, CT, or angiography as needed.
Will I glow in the dark afterward or turn green like the Hulk?
These are common myths about radiation treatments. There won't be any radioactivity in your body when you leave the treatment room, and you won't glow or turn any unusual colors. In fact, most people have no side effects at all.
Is the Gamma Knife like a real knife?
No. There are no knives or scalpels involved in the procedure.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery delivers radiation more accurately than regular radiation therapy. It creates high-energy gamma radiation beams strong enough to turn off even some of the fastest-growing tumors.
Does the Gamma Knife radiation also damage brain tissue around the tumor?
No. Gamma Knife procedures typically avoid the usual risks of traditional brain surgery, like:
- Long hospital stays
- Lengthy rehabilitation
- Damage to healthy brain tissue
- Surgical complications like bleeding, infection, and leaking of fluid from around the brain and spinal cord
- Dangers of being put to sleep (anesthesia)
- Other injury or chance of harm to normal brain function